101 Freeway wildlife crossing receives another infusion of funds

Published by Steve on

The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing reached a new milestone in funding.

Source of this article, The Thousand Oaks Acorn, Feb 4, 2021

A private party recently donated $1.4 million toward construction of the land bridge over the l01 Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. The donation raises total funding for the project to around $18 mi11ion and puts an expected 2021 groundbreaking on the “homestretch,” a representative for the project said.

The donation coincided with news about a new addition to the National Park Service’s study of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. The agency announced on Jan. 26 that a new male cougar, P-95, had been Captured and fitted with a GPS tracking collar earlier this month. The lion is estimated to be a little over a year old. It’s not known if he’s related to other mountain lions that have been tracked by NPS researchers since the study began in 2002. He is believed to be traveling with a sibling or his mother.

With the addition of P-95, the National Park Service is tracking 10 mountain lions.

Beth Pratt is the California regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, a conservation-focused nonprofit organization leading the campaign to raise donations for the bridge.

“This past fall we released new design visualizations,” Pratt said. “Caltrans will have the blueprints for the crossing completed this summer and if fundraising remains Strong we will break ground in November.”

While the total cost for the bridge is pegged at about $88 mil1ion, only a portion of that is needed to get the structure off the ground.

Pratt said the most of the money raised so far has come from private donations and has been put toward behind-the-scenes costs: feasibility studies, environmental reports and blueprint designs, among other things. As each document is completed it becomes easier to convince donors the project will come to fruition and that their money will make a difference, she said.

Organizations that can afford to make multimi11ion-dollar donations are usually restricted from re1easing funds until a project shows a certain level of completion, such as blueprints, Pratt said.

“There’s been interest in some pretty large gifts we’re hoping to finalize. It looks like a huge gap, but it’s not like we’re starting now – these are conversations that have been going on for a long time,” she said.

When completed, the 165-foot-wide crossing will stretch over 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway as well as Agoura Road, making it more than 200 feet long. The top will be seeded with nearly an acre of native vegetation, making it conducive for use by animals that want to get to the other side of the freeway.

The bridge is a collaboration of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, the City of Agoura Hi11s and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It will be built with a mix of public and private funds.